And So Begins My New Life

Join me as I embark on a new life and new career in Funeral Services.

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Location: Southeast, United States

I'm a Funeral Services graduate embarking on a new career. I graduated high school in 1981, served honorably in the United States Navy from 1982-1986, been married since 1986, and have one son. I've relocated to a new state and have begun working in my chosen profession of Funeral Services, and I've never been happier.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Taking Charge While The Boss Is Gone

My boss is on vacation all this week. I'm covering the phones and doing what I can in his absence. It was a very busy weekend, with three calls. I had made a list Sunday afternoon so I would know what we needed to get done Monday morning. It went something like this:
Dress and casket the body for the 11am funeral.
Enter files for the three calls we got, two of which we had already met with the family. (By "enter files" I mean put the data in the computer in order to generate the death certificate and burial/transit permits and Social Security forms).
Meet with the third family.
Contact one of the local churches concerning a mass for Thursday.
Complete the cremation authorization for the body being viewed at 11am. Cremation is to take place immediately following the services.
Print out the memorial cards for our 11am service.
Get another body ready for the Tuesday morning funeral (mentioned below).
And so on...we got it all done by lunch.

Last night around 1am we got a call. I made the removal and made an appointment with the family for them to come in around 9am to make the arrangements. I chose 9am because at 10am we had a funeral in our chapel, followed by burial at one of the local cemeteries. I figured the owner would be done in time to take the lead on the funeral.

About 9:45 he comes out of the arrangement conference to tell me I'll be taking the lead on this one. Surprisingly, I wasn't terribly nervous about it. The clergy came in right after that, and I made sure he had everything he needed. At the appropriate time I ushered him into the chapel, and we got the service started. At the conclusion, I came in and did the usual dismissal, "On behalf of the family, they would like to thank everyone for coming out this morning and showing their support. This concludes the services here at the funeral home. From here, we will be proceeding to Downtown Cemetery for the committal. At this time you may come pay your respects to the family, then retire to your cars. If you are planning on going to the cemetery, please line your cars up under the carport. Thank you for coming." We then allowed the family to have their last moments, then closed the casket, loaded it in the hearse, which I then led in procession to the cemetery. All in all, it was a real confidence booster. I like to think that I'm really coming through for the owner while the boss is out of town. All the while I'm trying to prepare to re-take my State Board Exam.

My only bleak spot of the day was catching up to The Man Who Wasn't There. I was finally able to meet with him and get him to sign the amended death certificate. However, when I got back to the funeral home, it was pointed out to me that I had overlooked a spot, and since the document had already been notarized, it would be illegal to alter it in any way without the permission of the doctor. So tomorrow I will have to try to reach him on the phone and get his permission to check the appropriate box that I missed.

In other news, one of the families we served will be transporting the cremated remains of their loved one back to the home country. I've been going around and around trying to reach the consulate on the phone to get the appropriate information on what paperwork is required for this. It turns out there is quite a bit. The family must file an application with the consulate, furnish photos of the deceased, send in the passport (my question is this: the deceased has lived here most of their life. What if they no longer have a current passport? I'm still waiting to hear back from the consulate on that one), furnish a certified copy of the death certificate, proof of cremation, an affidavit from the funeral home stating the urn contains only the cremated remains and nothing else, and a proposed itinerary of the trip, and all in duplicate. I don't envy them this job, although I'm sure we'll be helping them with the paperwork as much as possible.

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